50% Off... With His Head


"Embalmed Head of King Henry IV Found!" says the headline.

And the article goes on to discuss how ol' Hank had lost his head in the confusion of the French Revolution-- like, way literally-- and how the cast from the French version of Bones was called to identify him, in an exciting Sweeps Week two-parter. (Spoiler: he's not Gormagon.)

But what the Reuters article neglected to say is just where this decapitated head was all this time. And that really bugged me because I was sure I saw someone Tweet that it was found in...

Get ready for it...

A garage.

Yep, that's right. A 400-year-old embalmed head in your garage. (And-- ah!--  HERE it is: Time Magazine...)

So I'm guessing this French retiree's garage-- where the dead French dude's mummified noggin was stashed since the 1950s-- must be a lot like my family's place growing up. I mean, we weren't quite ready to star in an episode of Hoarders, but we did manage to retain some pretty weird crap.

Honestly, does the average homeowner really need a tarantula in a formaldehyde-filled jar? Or 300 Victorian doorknobs? Or a full-sized Early American spinning wheel? Or a pickled eel?  

I mean, really, how many times do you find yourself wishing, "Oh, if only I had a pickled eel handy! Drat it, now I'm going to have to figure out where I put that canned lamprey I was saving for Christmas."

Tim Burton could be my cool, normal uncle or something.

So I can see it now... France 2010...

Back behind the box of rat-eaten medieval mille-fleurs tapestries, past the rusted-out bicycle, the spider-infested baguette boxes, and the Jerry Lewis VHS tapes, there the solo-flying head of King Charlie Four has been quietly hanging out amusing himself for half a century. Playing "I-Spy" and "King of the Mountain" and whatnot.

So one day, the retiree's wife gets sick of the fact that the only thing that currently isn't stored in the garage is the Renault. 

And she announces, "We are going to have a garage sale and get rid of some of this junk." Only she says it in French, so it sounds a lot classier.

"Wee air go-wing to ave a gawage sell, and geet reed of some of zis jjjunque..."

(See that-- four-and-a-half years of French really paid off.) 

And so out come the mille-fleurs tapestries... ("Aren't zees Belgian?")

And the rusted-out bicycle... ("Movie prop from Amelie... We weell sell eet on ze EBay...")

And pretty soon, the wife shrieks:

"Mon cher, you weell not beeleeve what Ah jjooost found!"

"Eez eet beegger zan a baguette box?"

"Oui."

So,  soon Saturday morning comes, the garage sale is on, and folks are looking for a bargain.

"Mon cher," calls the wife, "'ow mush deed you want fair zis yooman mummy 'ead? Zere eez no price tag on eet."

"Eet keeps falling off. Five francs. And tell eem Ah weell throw in ze Jjjerry Lewis tapes."

And that's how I like to think the good folks in France were able to put King Henry back together again. 

Of course, now that I'm thinking about it... I wonder what Dad ever did with that tarantula in a jar. As I recall, he kept it back by his electronics worktable...

Y'know, just propping up Vinnie Van Gogh's ear.

5 comments:

Karen said...

I would've charged big bucks for zee hed. I mean, just the storage charges alone, plus keeping it in it's well preserved and yet grody state.

French Hoarders have such great stuff. Not like Americans. We're boring. Plus our stuff is usually not 'well preserved'. I mean, have you SEEN those hoarder shows...EWWWW.

Nick said...

Nice post.
I suspect pickled eel would be popular, down here in the South. Personally, I preferred just to get pickled.

Jenn Thorson said...

Karen- I have, and usually they're just shoveling the stuff out of the house into a dumpster and wearing Hazmat jumpsuits.

But honestly, how do you have a mummified head in your GARAGE for 50 years? Even Dad would have been wondering where the head came from and thinking maybe it needed some closure.

Nick- Perhaps they found some well-aged merlot in there, as well. :)

TheCrankyCanadian said...

I laughed all the way through this post!

You pose a good question though: how does one have a mummified human head in their garage for 50 years? But what I REALLY want to know is how the hell they FORGOT they had a mummified human head in their garage for 50 years? I mean, obviously they knew at one point in time because how else would it have gotten there, right?

Hmm...maybe a better question is how the hell did they get the head in the first place?? Do they have dudes in France who just sell heads off the back of a truck or something? 'This one belongs to John Lennon, this one is Anne Boleyn, this one is Henry the 4th'. Eeek!

Jenn Thorson said...

CrankyCanadian- You pose a lot of good questions I'd like the answers to, too. And when you DO have a human head in your possession, what makes you decide the best thing to do with it is "Aw, just put it in the garage"?

No, "Perhaps I should call the cops." No, "Maybe the local archaeological department at the University would like to know about this?" No, "Let's just put it in the guest room so it stays dry." Nope. The garage. :)